Cold rain lashed the house and low clouds scudded overhead, because that’s what those things do. Rain lashes, and clouds scud. Around noon the rain turned to snow - a suicide squad that evaporated on content with the ground, but it let us know who had the momentum here. Some years late October is a time of kind quiet grace. Some years it’s autumn’s Dunkirk. It’s going to be a long winter.

The oven repairman showed up at 9, as promised. He was a stout fellow with a Wilford Brimney ‘stache, , and was winded by the climb up the stairs; took him about ten minutes to stop wheezing. I was worried. I think he’s been here before. Perhaps he thought he’s been here before. After a while I imagine the houses all run together.

He had a master list of Thermador Error Codes, and told me that FI meant “stuck button.” This was non-standard. He had evident contempt for Thermador’s codes. For Thermador in general, it seems. Finicky easily spooked show-ponies. Thermidor and Dacor, they were the worst for getting old parts. Had to get a hinge on a five-year old Dacor? Didn’t exist.

That lady was out of luck.

He showed me how to remove the top of the stove, should I ever find myself thinking “I want to remove the top of my stove.” He said that sometimes that bolt there, just didn’t come off. These nice kitchens, and he’d have to bring in a grinder.

He’d have to. What are you going to do? You have to.

I love these guys. I love how they have opinions about these things.

A few hours later, another guy showed up. My wife, during her three weeks between jobs, contacted workmen to do everything she wanted to do, and last on the list was the railing in front of the house. I admit it needs painting. She wants it stained. Perhaps replaced. The carpenter explained that he could replace the railings, but they’d have to be four inches apart, maximum.

I said we wanted fewer slats. Wider spaces.

Well, he could do that, but if I sold the house I’d have trouble with the inspectors.

Excuse me?

He got out a tape measure. “Yep. Four inches. The width of a baby’s head.”

Excuse me?

It can’t be any wider, because a baby could get in there.

I explained that we were unlikely to have a baby, and on the chance that someone came by with a baby, it was unlikely that the child would find itself unattended on the front porch. Besides, look at these steps. We have to presume that a baby could wriggle through these bars and fall, oh, 18 inches, but it’s perfectly okay to have a flight of steps down which an infant could tumble.

He shrugged: it’s the code. What are you going to do.

I understand the need for codes, and I’m not one of those people who say “let the market punish shoddy homebuilders who use balsa wood for load-bearing beams,” but this is just ridiculous. I can’t have railings spaced 12 inches apart? I mean, it’s my house, isn’t it?

Yes, I know. Silly question.


That's a rejected Bleat banner up there. Decided to run it after the Florida trip to clear out the work that's backing up. You have no idea how many of these things I do. This one, for example -



I have no idea why I turned against it. I just didn't like it. Wasn't autumnal enough. This one . . .


. . . was part of a larger sequence that changed every day, with a different segment from the ad, but in the end I thought: so what?

I do know that the page has gotten crufty, and needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. So that's my Friday night project. Change the aesthetics of the page for 2013!

Cruel day.





Now, it's Friday Mummy-Time!



Oh, these are just awful. Not amateurish, or poorly made - they’re Universal products, so they have a certain top-studio sheen. It’s all backlots towards the end; they moved the action to Small-Town America - you know, those medium-sized all-American towns which just happened to have an elderly Egyptologist working in the local museum’s Egypt Department. The stories are the same: Kharis the Mummy gets revived with tannis leaves, walks around, strangles people with one hand, and steals a girl. Every. Single. Time.

It would be better if he could speak, I think. Some tortured groan.



We need an acolyte responsible for getting Kharis up-and-running. In this case:



John Carradine, in full Lurch WTF mode.

The Mummy is played by Lon Chaney Jr. again, and the makeup is just grand:



That thing coming at you on the big screen would make an impression on a young lad. An older lad would find the heroine to be quite fetching.



The ol' 2-by-4 in the shoulders look. She is, as it happens, the reincarnated crush of Kharis. She's Egyptian, in case you can't immediately tell. Ramsay Ames: B-roles all the way, a pin-up career. Hung it up in the middle 1960s

After he's alerted everyone's attention to the existence of The Mummy by strangling anyone remotely connected with Egpyt, the Pyramids, or the medical gauze industry, he manages to kidnap the girl, and moving at a pace of three inches per hour, transports her to a Remote Location for some ceremony.

This is what you want in a Universal monster movie, and you get it:



The luminescent white sleeping gown is de rigeur for all damsels being carried off by reanimated fiends. Unfortunately, while she's being dragged off, she ages rapidly, perhaps because contact with Kharis has brought out her reanimated bad self. She becomes ugly. Really ugly.



So it's okay that he drowns her in a bog at the end. Not the ending you suspect: the beautiful woman isn't rescued by her swain - but as I said, she's not beautiful anymore, so glub glub. I'll give them credit: no one saw that coming.


Number of Mummy's Ghosts involved: Zero.



See you around the usual places - Strib blog at noon, Strib column up now, Lint at noon, Tumblr now and then. Friday!


Coming on Monday: in which I meet and admire a guitarist of the band Television. See you then.











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